Bede on Yule

In De ratione temporum (On the reckoning of time), chapter 15, the Venerable Bede lists the English months:

In olden time the English people — for it did not seem fitting to me that I should speak of other nations’ observance of the year and yet be silent about my own nation’s — calculated their months according to the course of the moon.  Hence, after the manner of the Greeks and the Romans, [the months] take their name from the moon, for the moon is called mona and the month monath.

The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giuli; February is called Solmonath; March, Hrethmonath; April, Eosturmonath; May, Thrimilchi; June, Litha; July, also Litha; August, Weodmonath; September, Halegmonath; October, Winterfilleth; November, Blodmonath; December, Giuli, the same name by which January is called.  They began the year on the 8th kalends of January [25 Dec.], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord.  That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, ‘mother’s night’, because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night.

The months of Giuli derive their name from the day when the sun turns back [and begins] to increase, because one of [these months] precedes [this day], and the other follows. … [1]

‘Giuli’ is Yule, I believe.  Note how it is a two-month month.

 

  1. [1]Bede, The reckoning of time, translated … by Faith Wallis.  Liverpool, 2004, p.53-4

Wondering about Yule

I was just wondering about “Yule”, and what is really known about it, what the ancient/medieval sources are.  Generally we hear jeering about it at Christmas, and that’s it. 

A look at the web suggests that no-one online knows anything about the subject.  Certainly those who talk about it don’t seem troubled as to what, if any, evidence there might be. 

It might be interesting to research and put online the primary sources, whatever they are.  When I feel more like it.